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Posts Tagged ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

“A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot.”*…

As Anthony Powell once said, “Books do furnish a room.” But how to arrange that furniture?

The late French essayist and novelist Georges Perec understood the anxiety of shelving. In his 1978 essay “Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books,” the title work of a newly issued collection, Perec’s discussion of the many schemes for handling your personal library only shows how utterly impossible the task is. You could, for instance, agree only to keep 361 books in your library — buy one book, get rid of one. But then, he writes, you’d have to decide what a “book” is. Is a three-volume series one book or three? Maybe it’s better to stick with 361 authors instead of books. But then some books are anonymous, and some books don’t make sense without others in the same genre, and . ..

Perec died in 1982. His home library contained more than 1,800 books.

Perec’s essay is somewhat tongue-in-cheek — he was an Oulipian, a tribe of literary gamesmen who found creativity in extreme restraint. (He’s probably most famous for his 1969 novel, translated into English as “A Void,” in which he avoided using the letter E.) But however deep the joke runs, he knew he was writing about a legitimate crisis — not so much one of shelving as of personal identity. How much mess will we accept in our lives? How much order? Shelving, he notes, exemplifies “two tensions, one which sets a premium on letting things be, on a good-natured anarchy, the other that exalts the virtues of the tabula rasa, the cold efficiency of the great arranging, one always ends by trying to set one’s books in order.”…

Why bother organizing your books? A messy personal library is proof of life.” From Mark Athitakis (@mathitak)

[Image above: source]

* Alan Bennett

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As we stack ’em high, we might send pointed birthday greetings to Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce; he was born on this date in 1842. His book The Devil’s Dictionary was named as one of “The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature” by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.  His story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” has been described as “one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature”; and his book Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (also published as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Grolier Club as one of the 100 most influential American books printed before 1900.

A prolific and versatile writer, Bierce was regarded as one of the most influential journalists in the United States, and as a pioneering writer of realist fiction.  For his horror writing, Michael Dirda ranked him alongside Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft.  S. T. Joshi speculates that he may well be the greatest satirist America has ever produced, and can take his place with such figures as Juvenal, Swift, and Voltaire. His war stories influenced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, and others, and he was an influential and feared literary critic.  In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fabulist and for his poetry.

In 1913, Bierce told reporters that he was travelling to Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. He disappeared and was never seen again. 

Conservative (noun): A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

The Devil’s Dictionary

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 24, 2021 at 1:00 am

“Ah, to think how thin the veil that lies Between the pain of Hell and Paradise”*…

 

 click here for enlargeable and navigable version

From the remarkable Russian periodical, INFOGRAFIKA (see also here), a handy map of Hell.  per the title of this post, one just never knows when it might come in handy…

* George William Russell (AE)

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As we bird-dog Beatrice, we might send sardonic birthday greetings to Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce; he was born on this date in 1842.  A journalist, editor, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist, Bierce is probably best remembered for his short-story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (which Kurt Vonnegut considered the greatest American short story, a “work of flawless genius”) and, pace Dante, for his scathingly satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary

  • Advicen. The smallest current coin…
  • Boundaryn. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other…
  • Yearn. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments…

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 24, 2014 at 1:01 am

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